Democracy in Turkey

Dani Rodrik 

Dani Rodrik has just returned from Turkey, shunned while defending his father-in-law, the main defendant in the military coup plot case. The Harvard professor explains his take.

IN DECEMBER I traveled to Turkey with my wife and young son, as we do every year during winter break. This time, though, we had more than visiting family and friends in mind. We were on a mission to demonstrate that what many have called the trial of the century in Turkey is in fact a sham built on fabricated evidence.

Nearly two hundred Turkish military officers stand accused of having plotted a gruesome coup back in 2003—codenamed Sledgehammer—against the then–newly elected Justice and Development Party (AKP) government.

Details of the alleged plot have gripped the nation ever since an anonymous source delivered a suitcase full of what appeared to be secret military documents to a newspaper reporter in January 2010. Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan and other AKP leaders have openly lent support and credibility to the charges. With few exceptions, mainstream commentators have also accepted the claims at face value. The prosecutors have produced a 1,000-page long indictment, along with supporting documentation running into tens of thousands of pages. When we arrived in Turkey (my wife is the daughter of Çetin Doğan, the lead defendant in the case), the trial had just started in Silivri, on the grounds of a prison in the outskirts of Istanbul.

Our mission seemed quixotic and presumptuous at best. And yet, stripped of all the frenzy and disinformation that surrounds the case, the facts were abundantly clear. The coup plot documents on which the charges are based were obvious forgeries.

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